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Swimming: The Search For Frankie


If anyone ever wrote the story of my friendship with Frankie, people would probably say it sounds too good to be true. But that's how special our friendship has always been, and that's why the worst day of my life was the day Frankie fell. I'll never forget hearing that splash, and then just watching in horror as he slipped deeper and deeper into the darkness of the water. Even though I desperately wanted to try to save him, I'd always had this terrible fear of the water. I've never felt so helpless, or so scared, or so alone in my whole life. And just like that, he was gone.


Everyone kept saying that he's in a better place now, but I knew that couldn't be true. I knew that wherever he was had to be a scary place, and I knew that I would have to be the one to go and save him. That's why the moment I got home I locked myself away and started working on my plan to rescue Frankie. It took every ounce of my strength and all of the ability that I could muster, and as the hours passed I never even thought of stopping to rest. My big plan gradually took shape as the night wore on, until at last I was finished with my creation. It was the thing that could take me on the most important voyage of my life. I called it the big fish. When I finally made my way back to my room, all I could think about was finding Frankie. I shut the door, turned out the light, and tried to wait as long as I could for mom to nod off to sleep. Then I took my big fish out to the dock and shoved it into the water. For the first time in my life, I was ready to go swimming.


I was exhilarated to discover that my big fish worked better than I could have ever hoped. I made my descent into a world like I'd never seen before, as the world I knew disappeared into the distance above me. As I encountered the inhabitants of this underwater world I was surprised by how welcoming they were of my presence there, and that they did not seem to think it so strange to see me in the belly of this big fish I had made. But despite the friendly encounters I had with these creatures, none of them seemed to be able to help me find Frankie. So I left my new friends and descended further into the unknown depths.


At one point I felt a tremendous shock, like I had landed on the ocean floor. But it turned out to just be a cliff that overlooked a vast expanse plunging even further below. Before I could even decide what to do, my big fish tumbled over the cliff into the expanse. Little by little the last rays of light faded out as my big fish was swallowed up by this bottomless hole. The darkness all around made it impossible to tell how fast I was falling, and it seemed like I was caught in a free fall for hours and hours. I felt just as helpless and alone as I had felt when I was on the dock after Frankie fell.


Eventually I noticed that the darkness gave way to a light that seemed to be coming from below. The sensation of falling came to a stop, and I could see that I was no longer alone. I was now surrounded by these strange-looking creatures. I swam closer only to discover that these were not creatures at all, but instead were creations not very different from the big fish that I had built. In the belly of each creature was someone just like me, looking for someone just like I was looking for Frankie. We continued our searches together, swimming throughout this faraway world, exploring every bit of it in hopes of finding our friends.


And then all of a sudden we could see something swimming toward us, like a group of travelers that had lost its way. Overjoyed, we approached each of these lost swimmers, hoping to find the friends we'd feared might be lost forever. One by one, each lost swimmer found his way through the crowd to his searching friend, and the sight of each of these reunions made my heart sing. But among all of these lost swimmers I was unable to find Frankie. As the reunited friends began to disperse from the group of searchers, my heart despaired for finding him. It wasn't long before I was the only one left still looking for my lost friend. And just as the tears were welling up in my eyes, I could see him swimming toward me.


I never told my mom about the big fish, or the voyage, or finding Frankie in the bottom of the ocean. I don't know if she ever figured out how I got over my fear of the water. I don't think I would ever be able to explain how on these dark nights after everyone is asleep I go out with my big fish to visit Frankie from time to time. But I get the feeling that she understands the things that I'll never be able to tell her. Maybe she has a big fish of her own that takes her to visit friends she loves as much as I love my best friend Frankie.

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